Munich decision is ‘a severe blow’ for classical music

Ulrich Wilhelm, director of Bayerische Rundfunk, has delivered a stinging response to the state and city’s decision not to build a new concert hall. ‘It’s a severe blow to Bavarian’s world-famous orchestral culture,’ he says. ‘The development of classical culture in Bavaria will be greatly weakened. I am extremely disappointed with this outcome of a ten-year debate.’

Die Entscheidung, auf einen zusätzlichen Konzertsaal für München zu verzichten und stattdessen auf eine aufwändige Sanierung der bestehenden Säle zu setzen, ist ein schwerer Schlag für die weltweit berühmte Orchesterkultur Bayerns und eine folgenschwere Entscheidung. Wir haben schon heute zu wenig Kapazität für große Orchestermusik in München, die Umbauzeit wird eine zusätzliche Lücke ins Konzertleben reißen. Die Klangkörper des Bayerischen Rundfunks, die seit Jahrzehnten mit großem Einsatz das Klassikleben in Bayern stärken, werden dadurch in ihren Entwicklungsmöglichkeiten genauso geschwächt, wie alle anderen Orchester und privaten Veranstalter. Ich bin sehr enttäuscht über dieses Ergebnis einer zehnjährigen intensiven Debatte.

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  • My prediction is the “Gasteig 2.0” concept will never materialize due to the – well justified – protest, and in the next round politics will point finger to BR and private investors and ask them to cough up substantial amount of money for a new hall.

    • Well, SIEMENS believes in music and its HQ is just across Ludwigstraße from the site of the proposed new hall, the Neues Odeon, or “Siemenssaal”!

      • Knowing how the long term agenda of the Bavarian CSU is opposed to the public broadcasting system in Germany, we can never expect these politicians to subsidize the BR symphony orchestra in any way.

        A possible solution could be such private sponsorship in connection with a long term lease to BR.

  • I’ve only been in this hall a few times, but I thought it was perfectly awful. The very large volume of space which the 2400 seat hall occupies – probably a substantial cause of the poor acoustics – means that there is a lot of flexibility if something completely new is built there.

    • This is a terrible blow for Mariss Jansons and the BR, who are severely disadvantaged in the concert hall Arena in Munich, since they only have second call on the Philharmonie, which is the home of the Munich Phil and the dreaded Gergiev (who might, one suspects, have had a hand in the manipulation of this decision). It would serve the philistine Bavarian Prime Minister right if Jansons decided to up sticks and go to Berlin after Rattle – since the Berlin Phil would welcome him with open arms.

      • You can be sure that Gergiev had nothing to do with this decision.

        You can be equally sure that Jansons will not “up sticks and go to Berlin” because, as I understand it, and NL knows more, he is tending to wind down his activities for reasons of health. I would bet that in 2018 he will relinquish his last post, at BR, and then confine his activity to occasional guest appearances with the few orchestras he knows.

        Horst Seehofer is our Ministerpräsident, which is akin to a U.S. state governor more than to a prime minister. I don’t know whether he is a philistine, by which I assume you mean someone who doesn’t have time for art music, but he has certainly done some U-turns.

        Dieter Reiter, the new Oberbürgermeister of Munich, who jointly made this decision with Seehofer, is a mostly unknown quantity as far as the arts go. He will now be taking much criticism from the affected arts groups and time will tell whether he winds up reversing himself.

  • I just hope he doesn’t leave before the end of his contract (2018). For as much as the halls in Munich are ridiculous and Jansons is not getting what he was hoping for, it’s always a pleasure to listen to the BRSO led by such a great conductor.

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